US presidential hopeful Barack Obama empathized deeply with Israelis' feelings of insecurity and talked tough on Iran during a whirlwind 36-hour campaign stop here on Wednesday. The Illinois senator arrived in Sderot in the late afternoon, after a marathon day of meetings and campaign photo opportunities that began with a breakfast with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, followed by a visit to Yad Vashem, a meeting with President Shimon Peres, a drive to Ramallah and meetings with the Palestinian Authority's President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, a return trip to Jerusalem for a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and then a helicopter ride down to Sderot with Livni and Barak. Obama met for dinner with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and was then was scheduled for a late-night visit to the Western Wall. Iran featured prominently in Olmert's talks with the candidate. Looking a bit tired, Obama used a press conference in Sderot to address key issues on the minds of Jewish voters and other Israel supporters in the US, as well as matters of concerns to Israelis. "I can assure you," he said, speaking at the local police station against a backdrop of Kassam rockets, "if someone was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." He tried to put to rest concerns that an Obama administration would be characterized by pressuring Israel to make concessions, saying that no one who spoke with him on Wednesday "got any sense that I would be pressuring them to accept any kinds of concessions that would put their security at stake. "We don't want a peace deal just to have a piece of paper that doesn't result in peace. We need something that is meaningful, and it is not going to be meaningful if Israel's security is not part of that package." While saying that true security would be difficult to attain with hostile neighbors just a few miles away, Obama said he thought Israel had to ensure that "peace is not purchased by putting Israel's security at risk, and it is the job of the US, I think, to make sure that that peace is centered and promotes Israel's long term security." Obama took a tough stand against Iran, saying he would use "big carrots and big sticks" in dealing with the regime, and that while he wanted to pursue the diplomatic track, "I would take no options off the table." "Understand part of my reasoning here," he said. "A nuclear Iran will be a game-changing situation, not just in the Middle East but around the world." The senator said a nuclear Iran would lead to the disintegration of the non-proliferation framework, and a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East. "Many of these countries, including Iran, have ties to terrorist organizations, and suddenly you could have lost nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists, " he said, defining that as a threat not only to Israel, but also to the US. Obama said he was not naive about the nature of the Iranian regime, and that he wanted "tough, serious direct diplomacy" because "if we show ourselves willing to talk and to offer carrots and sticks in order to deal with these pressing problems, and if Iran then rejects overtures of that sort, it puts us in a stronger position to mobilize the international community to ratchet up the pressure on Iran." Obama was asked about his speech to AIPAC speech last month in which he talked of an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but backed down later when he clarified that the future of Jerusalem had to be decided in negotiations. "I didn't change my statement," Obama said. "I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. I have said that before and will say it again. I have also said that it is important that you don't simply slice the city in half. But I've also said that this is a final status issue, an issue that has to be dealt with by the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis. It is not the job of the US to dictate the form which that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long history." After the press conference in Sderot, Obama received a white T-shirt from Mayor Eli Moyal that read "I (heart) Sderot," with a rocket through the heart. Earlier he met briefly with Asher Twito, an eight-year-old Sderot boy who lost a leg to a Gazan rocket. Twito gave Obama a hat, and the senator, according to those present, was touched by the gift. Obama referred to Twito in his prepared statement at the press conference, saying the youngster epitomized the courage and resilience of the people of Sderot and of Israel. Earlier in the day, before his meeting with Peres, Obama said the purpose of his trip, paid for by his campaign, was to "reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment to Israel's security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a US senator or as president." Obama joked with Peres, after praising him, that he wanted to get from him the "recipe for looking as good he does." Obama's long day began with a meeting with Barak that, according to a statement released by the Defense Ministry, included a "vigorous and intense discussion touching on all the basic issues and future challenges facing Israel and the free world in the region." After the Barak meeting, Obama met opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu said he was impressed with Obama's understanding of the Iranian threat and that they both agreed that a nuclear Iran was unacceptable. The opposition leader stressed that they also agreed that what was important was the end result of preventing a nuclear Teheran, rather than the means of how to accomplish that, and that when it came to stopping Iran there were no politics. Netanyahu also outlined his plan for economic peace with the Palestinians, and Obama told him he agreed that quality of life was connected to security. Obama said, "I'll never compromise Israel's security. Terrorism is not theoretical, it's right here a block away from this hotel, and it must be fought with full force and strength." Tuesday's bulldozer attack took place just down the street from the King David Hotel where Obama was staying. Netanyahu was joined in the meeting by his foreign policy advisers Dore Gold, Uzi Arad, Zalman Shoval and Ron Dermer. At Yad Vashem, which Obama visited when he was here in 2006 for the first time, he laid a wreath in the memorial hall and wrote in the visitors book, "At a time of great peril and torment, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man's potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world." He said he would like to bring his two young daughters to the site on his next visit. While in Sderot, during a meeting with Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Dichter, an Ashkelon resident, told Obama what it was like living and raising a family within missile range of the Gaza Strip. He also spoke of his mother, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor also living in Ashkelon, who he said was again living in a reality of constant threats, this time from Kassam rockets. Obama, who arrived Tuesday evening from Jordan, was scheduled to leave early Thursday morning for Germany. Elie Leshem and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.